Updated: Oct 24, 2018
Well, we arrived in Minsk in a raging storm which certainly set the tone for the first couple of days. The weather was so bad, we had to eat in our hotel, the imaginatively named Hotel Tourist, a true throw-back to soviet days with empty echoing corridors. Dinner was in a huge cold empty dining room, lots of tables in frilly table cloths and no customers. The service was equally cold and unwelcoming so we settled for small plates of potato cakes (they're called Draniki, served with thick sour cream and actually really nice) washed down with large quantities of the local light beer and shots of another local speciality, Balsam. This is actually insanely strong, around 45% proof and tastes of old fashioned cough medicine. The strong liquor flavour conceals the strength so you don't notice till it's too late.